It was a beautiful Monday afternoon with a slight overcast and the smell of rain as I stepped out of my house to catch the 12:15pm OCTA 79 bus to University of California, Irvine for my Sankofa class at 1:00pm.
Little would I know that there was a student protest going on which had locked down the entire Donald Bren Hall Building until I saw something amiss from a distance – what was usually quiet and empty, filled the air with voices of students protesting against the new UC President, Janet Napolitano.
I’ll be honest to say that because I’m not a student here and I’m merely a fellow on a Dept of State grant, I have absolutely no idea what was going on, but it sure did piqued my interest into the student – university relationship because in Singapore, I can’t recall at the top of my head if there ever was any form of student protest against who would be the new President of a university and even if there was one, no one really bothers about it.
The only few significant ones that I did manage to scour for on the internet are Students at NTU protesting against fee hike for hostel, students protesting against opposition party member, Dr Chee Soon Juan’s visit and Students and Faculty unhappy with NTU decision about Dr Cherian George tenure.
Unfortunately, all of them were from Nanyang Technological University.
Regarding the case with Janet Napolitano, she was previously the Cabinet Secretary of Homeland Security and during her tenure there, based on people I spoke with, she is unpopular because she deported undocumented immigrants and that makes it a big issue with students at the UCs. Source: Huffington Post. There are apparently, quite a significant number of undocumented immigrants studying in the UCs, based on conversations with the people I spoke to on campus.
That aside, students worry that her presidency will see tuition fee hikes in a bid to continue to pay higher wages to staff and herself as how one student puts it, “She will make friends with the same administrators who get paid to ignore your concerns,” Shadee Malaklou, 28, a Ph.D. student in culture and theory, told the protesters. Source: OC Register.
So, there are indeed general concerns raised with regards to her presidency.
What will happen to undocumented students and will there continue to be a rise in the cost of education?
Definitely, what is lacking here is the dialogue between the Administrators, Regents and Student Leaders, and even if there is, how will these issues be resolved looking at the political and economic climate surrounding not just the US, but the rest of the world.
One thing I know for sure, there were students who definitely wanted to continue with their classes and were disappointed that the protest wasn’t held at someplace else that wouldn’t disrupt their classes.
And well, isn’t this bumblebee looking so lovely?
It had a crash landing at my ears and ended up on my keyboard.